Daughter’s appeal for ‘generous’ dad in tough cancer battle
When an Airlie Beach taxi driver endured the devastating loss of his home and his business at the start of last year, it was only the beginning of his struggle.
Russell Payne is now fighting for his health after being diagnosed with bone cancer and is relying on friends to help keep a roof over his head.
His daughter Laura is appealing to the community for help, setting up a GoFundMe page to help give her dad the drive to keep fighting.
Laura said her 70-year-old dad moved to the Whitsundays 30 years ago and started out driving taxis, but he built up a business and ended up owning seven vehicles.
Russell is the type of man who will talk about the wonders of the Whitsundays to anyone who would listen.
"He always boasts about telling all the tourists where to go and (about) all the islands," Laura said.
"He loves it and he doesn't want to move."
But in the first couple of months of 2020, when coronavirus was just starting to dig its claws into the world, Russell suffered the loss of both his home and his business.
Laura, who is based on the Gold Coast, said ill health meant Russell battled to manage the business despite his best efforts and he had a bad run with vehicle troubles and financial pressures.
"The tourism wasn't booming at that time either so he was struggling to get the income coming in," Laura said.
"And the mechanical bills, it added up."
Then in the middle of last year he was diagnosed with myeloma, a type of cancer that develops from plasma cells in the bone marrow.
Laura said doctors had warned there was no cure for Russell's cancer and treatment would be aimed toward increasing his longevity.
He travels regularly to Mackay or Proserpine for treatment and has undergone chemotherapy.
"It took a couple of months (to be diagnosed), it was a lot of doctors' appointments for him," Laura said.
"At that stage he was very depressed with losing his house and business at the start of the year.
"He was down and out but he's got a lot of good friends in Airlie Beach who have been helping him.
"He's gone through so much."
Laura said a friend had opened her house to Russell and his spirits had been high since seeing community support flood in from his daughter's appeal.
"I'm reading the messages to him," Laura said.
"To see him talk more vibrantly every day, it's really helping him.
"He starts off saying I'm absolutely speechless Laura, he's doing lots of crying and it's lifting his spirits so much."
Laura has set a target of $5000 for the GoFundMe page with a view to spending the money to cover rent, medical bills and fixing her dad's car.
She hopes it will help give him motivation, happiness and the drive to keep going.
"His whole time in Airlie Beach he's helped other people," Laura said.
"He's had young people come into his home and helped them get back on their feet again.
"He's always been so generous.
"There's so many things he wants to be able to do and live with not so many worries or concerns.
"My dad is so grateful for all the support already."
So far, the GoFundMe page has raised more than $1700. To support the cause click here.